Tommy Tuberville is off to a good start in his long-shot effort to keep the old Big East relevant in football. Tuberville is 5-2 against top-five teams, he ditched the Big 12 to come to Cincinnati, pulled quarterback Gunner Kiel away from Notre Dame, then Saturday handed the Big Ten’s Purdue their biggest opening day loss since 1996 by a 42-7 score.
While pundits have Louisville as the lone representative of the American Athletic Conference in the Top 10, www.masseyratings.com has Cincinnati rated as the highest team. A Cincinnati title is almost a necessity as they will be an anchor of conference formed after Big East teams left South Florida, Connecticut and Cincinnati before their final year with an automatic BCS bid.
If Cincinnati claims that bid and even a BCS Bowl Game win, they would help the conference claim they should not be simply lumped in with the other non-BCS conferences. A title for Louisville in their final year before going to the ACC–or for Rutgers in their final year before going to the Big Ten–would only further discredit the conference in favor of those two.
Kiel will not even play until next year, sitting out the season along with 6-foot-6 wide receiver who Tuberville brought in from Arkansas.
With Kiel sitting as a transfer and starter Brendon Kay out with a sore shoulder, senior dual threat quarterback Munchie Legaux took full advantage of the start. He went 13 of 20 for 146 yards and ran six times for 55 yards.
A record Bearcats crowd of more than 36,000 witnessed the American Athletic Conference’s first big win. The Bearcats will be at least a touchdown favorite at Illinois next week as they try to add a road win against the Big Ten, and if they get to 9-0 a lot would be riding the last three games of the year.
Right now the Bearcats would be a slight underdog at Big Ten-bound Rutgers on November 16, travels to Houston the next week, and finishes at home against Louisville in the game that could decide the last automatic qualifier from the old Big East before Louisville goes to the ACC and the new arrangements are finalized.